If you have come up with an idea for a new product, and want to launch it commercially, the first thing you need to do is keep an inventor's journal, making a formal record of when youconceived the idea and when it was made into a working mechanism. Date and sign everything, and have it witnessed and notarized. If you apply for a patent, expect the process to take about 18 months and cost anywhere from $3,000 to $5,000,including patent fees, a patent search and the services of a patent attorney. To have a prototype built, you could spend many thousands of dollars more. If you sell your invention, useit in public or describe it in a printed publication, you have one year to file a patent. After that you lose your right to patent it.
You should be cautious if you decide to hire an invention promotion company for assistance. In some cases, inventors have paid thousands of dollars to firms that promised to evaluate,develop, patent, and market inventions, but received nothing for their money. If a company advertises that they have access tomanufacturers who are interested in licensing your product, ask for proof of the relationship before sending money or signing a contract. Some companies do a market evaluation on yourproduct, costing several hundred dollars. If the company is questionable, the evaluation may be vague and provide no hard evidence that there is a market for your invention. Beforepaying for an evaluation, ask what specific information it will contain. Invention companies may also offer you a contract inwhich they will act as your exclusive marketing and licensing agent, requiring an upfront fee of as much as $10,000 and a percentage of the royalties the invention may earn. A reputablecompany typically does not rely on large upfront fees, instead it relies on the royalties from the successful licensing of client inventions, and therefore, will be very selective aboutwhich ideas and inventions it pursues.
If you do not wish to work with an invention company, you may contact companies to pitch your product yourself, or you may wish to attract investors and set up your own company to marketyour product.